So what’s the deal with the new assessment policy?

By Conrad Hogg (Guild President) & Lincoln Aspinall (Education Council President)

Last year the university adopted a new assessment policy, effective from 2019. It contains some changes to the way that you are assessed, and the Guild did a whole lot of work to get the best possible deal for students. Find out more below.

Scaling

What’s the change?

UWA now practices criterion-based assessment, meaning that students are marked against a set of criteria (i.e. a marking rubric), not against each other.

This means the new policy no longer allows unit coordinators to scale the results of assessments. Where assessment marks are significantly abnormal, indicating that there was an error with the assessment method, marks may be adjusted by the board of examiners.

What was happening before?

Scaling was applied inconsistently and unclearly throughout the university. Only two schools had clear scaling policies, while others scaled inconsistently, and often without telling students. This is often unfair because your performance is dependent on the performance of others in your class.

Why is this happening?

The Higher Education Standards (administered by TEQSA) require universities to carry out criterion-based assessment. This means that universities must mark students’ performance against a set of criteria (like a rubric), not against each other. This means that UWA cannot continue to scale if it is to be compliant.

What did your student reps do?

Student reps did not take a position on scaling, acknowledging that some students really like scaling, and some hate it, depending on their performance and their discipline. We support the university being compliant with the Higher Education Standards, and pushed for adjustment to be made available through the Board of Examiners where an assessment can be judged to be unfair. We’re continuing to work with the Educational Enhancement Unit consistently to ensure academics adjust to the transition correctly and students don’t run into any unfair issues.

Exam Weightings

What’s the change?

A single exam can now only be worth up to 60%. Across a unit, exams should be worth no more than 70% (many unit coordinators currently find loop holes to avoid this).

What was happening before?

A single exam could be worth up to 70%, and exams could cumulatively be worth 100%.

Why is this happening?

It is unfair to students having such a high proportion of their mark based on their performance over a two-hour period. This is neither a fair assessment mechanism, nor a good indicator of a student’s ability.

What did your student reps do?

This change was directly driven by the Guild. Read the paper here.

Notice for Supplementary and Deferred Exams

What’s the change?

Timetables for supplementary and deferred exams must be released at least 10 days in advance.

What was happening before?

Only 3 days notice had to be given for deferred and supplementary exams.

Why is this happening?

Students should have the ability to plan around when their exams are.

What did your student reps do?

This change was directly driven by the Guild. Read the paper here.

Release of Unit Outlines

What’s the change?

Unit outlines must be released at least 1 week before the start of semester.

What was happening before?

Unit outlines only had to be released the day before semester.

Why is this happening?

Students should be able to access their unit outlines as early as possible.

What did your student reps do?

This change was directly driven by the Guild.

Feedback on Assessments

What’s the change?

All coursework students must be provided with formative feedback in the first half of the teaching period. Students must also be given feedback on each assessment item, including exams.

What was happening before?

Academics were still required to provide feedback on assessments but the guidelines around it were far less clear.

Why is this happening?

To provide students a better avenue for reflection and to improve their skills, leading to a greater pedagogical experience.

What did your student reps do?

This change was directly driven by the Guild.

Posted on April 2, 2019

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